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Publisher's Summary

Karl Marlantes left University at 22 to serve in the Vietnam War. Matterhorn was the bestselling novel based on his experiences. Now Marlantes takes us back to Vietnam, but this time there is no fictional veil. It is part exorcism of Karl's own experiences of combat, part confession, part philosophical primer for the young man about to enter combat. It is also a devastatingly frank answer to the questions ‘What is it like to face death?' and 'What is it like to kill someone?'

©2011 Karl Marlantes (P)2012 W F Howes Ltd

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent and enlightening

What a book, loved it start to finish. A lot of good stories and life lessons

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Target audience

This, when heard by someone outside its target audience (someone going to/ returning from war or someone close to someone going to/ returning from war), contains a great amount of fluff.

An interesting insight at times, an elongated sermon/therapy session in others. This is not a judgement for or against its value.

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    5 out of 5 stars

A great insight on what it was like in Vietnam.

What was one of the most memorable moments of What It Is Like To Go To War?

The best part for me was the thought of being 25 years old, Being in command of 10+ other soldiers in a life or death situation, and a simple request on the radio will call in an artillery strike on the enemy. Or possibly a Napalm strike to burn the enemy. that thought makes me feel really strange even after finishing this book some time ago.

Have you listened to any of Jeff Harding’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

First book i listened to but it was still a very good first book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. This book is quite long and there is alot of infomation to take in. With each chapter focusing on one aspect of the war. Such as one chapter being about combat, one being about the lies that are told in war with another being all about what it was like to come home.

Any additional comments?

If Vietnam or just what it is like to go to war, this is a recommended book. I also quite like the Narration.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rudy
  • 12-23-12

Compelling philosophy of war

This is a really great listen. I'd recommend it to anyone, whether they are interested in the history of the Vietnam war (which is the book's touchstone) or not, as it gives a balanced and insightful view into the minds of those who have experienced combat. I can't say that I agree with Marlantes' view that war is an inevitability, but if it is, this book should serve as a great reference work for those who will cause it, experience it, and be left to deal with its after effects.



As a UK listener, I initially found the narrator to be quite leaden in his delivery, but persevere and you will soon start to pick up on the nuances in the narration.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Niall
  • 09-30-16

Excellent overall, if a little preachy at the end

Excellent description of his experiences, with sage and frank life advice. A little preachy for my tastes towards the end, but I would still highly recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • D. Williams
  • 02-15-18

Warts an' all

Should be essential reading for anyone contemplating joining the army or marines. Blunt honest brutal

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  • George T.
  • 11-29-17

Loved it

The more I hear and read of Karl Marlantes, the more I like and respect him

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ryan
  • 04-19-17

modern classic right here folks,

one of the very best books on what it takes to deal with war, on the ground and in the soul. a sure modern classic.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr R B
  • 11-17-15

This is a very good book

I didn't know what to think when I ordered this, as I just found it by browsing and of course we only ever get to hear a little snippet when we sample online - but it's excellent.

Jeff is a very good narrator (which often makes a good book better). For his part, Karl has led what by any measure would be an interesting life and he writes about it very well. His thoughts on the philosophy of war (and life) are very enlightening. I shall listen to this one again.

I suspect that bright as Karl is (and he certainly is smart) getting that scholarship probably wasn't hindered by his dad being school principle. I would also guess that his recollections of the mass for the dead might just possibly have been influenced by the special herbal medication that he used to self prescribe around that time. But these two little points are just me reading between the lines and in no way detract from the book.

I'm pleased that Karl wrote this book and I'm glad that I listened to it.

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  • Dr Richard L Peacocke
  • 02-08-15

Realistic and believable.

This is harrowing and memory-generating for those of us who are war veterans, and illustrative and instructive for those who are not.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Jan
  • 02-07-15

Excellent

Very compelling and wellwritten. A must read for warriors, their famlies and especially the decisionmakers who sent them into combat ... and should prepare fir their return

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  • Matthew
  • 05-21-16

A crazy insight into the experience of a soldier

Karl gives a brutally honest account of his messed up journey including the messed up things he did and saw...and the messed up things that most people all secretly want a piece of. He makes the "psychology of warriors" a fascinating science.